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Forests

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the policy of the Forestry Commission England is on the re-creation of (a) lowland heathland and (b) other open habitats on its estate; and if he will make a statement. (282478)

The Forestry Commission is leading a process to develop the policy on restoring and expanding open habitats such as lowland heathland from woods and forests in England. The Forestry Commission completed a public consultation on the open habitats policy in June 2009 which received over 170 responses. A report on the consultation will be published in the summer and I expect to receive recommendations on policy options in the autumn.

The approach followed on the public forest estate will then reflect our decisions on the policy options as well as and conclusions from the study of the long-term role of the Public Forest Estate announced in November 2008.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the area of plantation forest in the public forest estate which could be restored to (a) lowland heathland and (b) blanket bog. (282480)

The Forestry Commission published the results of a survey of open habitats and open habitat potential on the public forest estate in May 2009. The survey shows that the area of plantation forest that could be restored to lowland heathland as 29,433 hectares and the area of plantation forest that could be restored to blanket bog as 1,794 hectares.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has of the area of (a) lowland heathland and (b) blanket bog which (i) Forestry Commission England and (ii) other public bodies have restored since 2005. (282481)

The area of lowland heathland and blanket bog restored by the Forestry Commission on the public forest estate since 2005 is 672 hectares and 315 hectares respectively. We do not hold the information centrally on other public bodies. However, Natural England has entered into Environmental Stewardship agreements with landowners to restore 12,763 hectares of lowland heathland and 24,795 hectares of blanket bog.